Sunday, March 30, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
....upon entering the scene of a reported armed robbery, even if the suspect has drawn his gun -- unless -- the suspect points his gun at the officer. Which newly revised deadly force rule quickly got an officer killed in Queens, New York; leading a quick legislative reversal. The equally cruel rule it succeeded had authorized police officers to fire a shot in the air to warn -- any -- fleeing suspect, and then shoot to kill (you will observe this rule re-enacted on some episodes of the late 50s, early 60s series "Naked City").
A similarly deadly to law enforcement rule change seems to have fallen de facto from the sky -- across the entire nation -- in the form of the conviction and draconian sentencing of two U.S. border patrol guards in El Paso federal court for shooting a fleeing drug smuggler whom officers believed -- but admitted were not sure -- had a gun in his hand.
The El Paso, Texas U.S. Attorney's Office's took the combination of federal civil rights law and a U.S. Supreme Court finding that "it is a violation of someone's Fourth Amendment rights to shoot [someone] in the back while fleeing if you don't know who they are and/or if you don't know they have a weapon" as a federal civil rights formula for prosecuting the (honest enough to admit they were not sure about the gun) border patrol officers.
The officers believed they acted in fear for their lives as they were chasing a suspect who had just left one of them floored and bloody in the act of breaking free (not your typical illegal job seeker) and kept looking over his shoulder while running with an object in hand, at one point turning towards them and pointing the "shiny object" they took for a gun...
....according to the convicted officers at least. The prosecution-immunized drug smuggler -- 800 pounds of marijuana were subsequently found in his van -- told a different tale under oath. He escaped at the time, making it impossible to absolutely prove or disprove possession of a gun.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declared that "we cannot expect calm deliberation in the face of an upraised knife." To which we may add the modern day knowledge that adrenalin can diminish you judgment every bit as much as alcohol.
Back in the late 70s when I was driving for a car service in the Bronx I had more than one almost accident with police cars -- not chasing a suspect -- but rather whose drivers had ALREADY made an arrest and were so pumped that they blew red lights forgetting lights and sirens.
If the El Paso decision holds up there should theoretically be no defense for police officers who fire when they think a suspect is even reaching for a gun -- if they were not sure. If the El Paso case holds the FBI should theoretically be prepared to investigate every police shooting in every state that fits the newly coined mis-understanding about the need for certainty about the suspect possessing a gun. Back turned doesn't mean a thing: the quick and the accurate are out there.
Last -- and perhaps most importantly: Justice White's dictum -- on which the prosecution theory lies -- did not comprehensively rule on the aspects of "imminent danger" as far as I can see. Justice White defended his opinion at the time that by explaining "It is better for all suspects to escape than for all suspects to be killed." That sounds to me like a rule that finds society's need to apprehend the suspect of less weight than the suspect's Fourth Amendment rights -- not a rule that says finds imminent danger to the officer's life automatically outweighed by the suspects rights.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
In the same line as recognizing S.S. retirement may end up a REVERSE Ponzi scheme -- each retiring generation being potentially able to soak even more benefits in absolute terms out of their youngsters then they paid to their oldsters (based on average income more than doubling over a working life span) -- and especially after S.S. retirement settles down to a steady (6-7%) cut of GDP (about 40 years from now)...
...Social Security retirement AGE -- if sanely set; not like in the Moynihan-Malthusian debacle of the eighties -- may actually come DOWN with each succeeding generation. :-O Of course, this will depend on the relative voting power of the oldsters (which will increase for the next 40 years ;-]).
MORE for Malthusians:
Since so much formerly taxable income has shifted out of FICA cap range during the last half of S.S.'s existence, due to the rise in so-called "inequality" (a weak term if you ask me for the wage rape that has been happening) -- assuming we don't get inequality ironed out we can just remove the cap altogether (not just up it a bit -- that would not recapture the income stream that has moved to the top few percent of earners, overwhelmingly to the top one percent -- "rape" might to tough a term since American labor has mostly let it happen to itself via lack of interest or ignorance about bargaining power.)
Impracticality of RAISING retirement age:
Being employable means not just health as in lack of disabling disease, and, not just physical strength (as you point out: the requirement for that has dropped drastically) but also physical energy, attention and, yes, even fully working memory.
Problem is, even if you think people over 60 are just fine in these departments, EMPLOYERS do not. Try to get a job other than WalMart greeter over 60; good luck.I am 64 (this week) and employers are not all wrong. When your muscles go (without heroic efforts, in your very late 50s) a portion of your energy and ambition go that cannot be compensated for by the biggest adrenal glands (which I have); short term memory can become a genuine problem too.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Worried about unemployment caused by layoffs in the health insurance industry -- should Medicare for All be adopted. Worry about our OTHER industries (our PRACTICAL, making something or serving someone industries) suffering v. foreign competition (think GM) because they have to pay for workers' health care (think $1100 extra per car).
Remember the typing pool? Not if you went to work in the mid 70s by which time millions of typists had been replaced by copying machines. It's called creative destruction (the alternative is called Luddism).
How many manufacturing and other jobs are we willing to lose to keep medical insurance offices filled?
Single payer would not be "insulated" from -- what -- political pressures once adopted? I thought that once the big health insurance was out of the way there wasn't supposed to be any more (supposedly out sized) political pressures.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
That the modern industrial economy grows four times as fast as the population per person -- that means that by the time population double the economy will produce eight times as much; four times as much output per person -- doesn't get through to them. I guess that makes Peter G. Peterson America's greatest Social Security Malthusian.
Come to think of it: I guess a lot or even most of so-called conservative economics is unconsciously Malthusian, from trying to privatize Social Security to attempting to "starve the beast" -- all see the sky falling because they just never catch on that output per person grows four times (4X!) as fast as the population. From Voodoo economics to Chicken Little economics: that's Republicans.